It was a huge relief to me when I found we would be passing the Dolphin Research Center on the way to Key West. I could fulfil my childhood dream as well as ensure I was supporting an ethical organisation due to the scientific demands for animal welfare.
We attended a talk at the mother-calf area, where we got to coo over two babies. It was really interesting and sort of bemusing to see the mothers vie for our attention as well, almost as if they were saying “Hello? We’re here too, you know?!”
They splashed around, waved, and even did a few jumps for us. Sometimes their calves would join in as well. Truly very playful and friendly animals.
What I loved about the centre was that all of the animals get a choice whether they want to participate in talks. If one of the mums has decided she wants to focus more on her calf than on a marine biologist, that’s absolutely fine. If she decides she wants to stay in the back pen, away from visitors, she would never be forced to the front to be shown off. The staff place a lot of faith in their animals to know themselves which is really refreshing to see. The centre is really living up to their mission statement of “promoting peaceful coexistence, cooperation and communication between dolphins and humans”.
Connecting, if only for a minute, with another highly intelligent species is a challenge to describe. It’s the feeling of anticipation, like you’re on the verge of a scientific discovery and are nearing the eureka moment. You don’t share a language but there’s still an awareness between the two of you that you want to communicate, so you keep looking at each other and wishing you could and looking and longing and then just like that, it’s over.
Now, I hadn’t planned on getting wet on this trip but as I was sitting on a bench in the shade of a tree, I got water on my arm. Looking back on it I wish someone had been filming me because I’m sure my face was the very picture of confusion. My mind immediately decided that the tree’s leaves must have collected water from the last storm and suddenly gave way… but it was far too hot for that.
Then my brother made me look up and I saw this.
A gecko peed on me. I have a wonderful memory from this day that I will treasure forever but whenever I think of it or mention it, the memory that will always follow will be of a Madagascar day gecko peeing on me.
Look at that smug face. He knows what he did!
|Universal Studios Orlando||Key Biscayne|
|Cocoa Beach and Village||Orchids and Key Largo|
|Kennedy Space Center||Dolphin Research Center|
|Miami Beach||Key West|